SYDNEY: Six people have been charged after Australian authorities uncovered a multi-million-dollar crime syndicate stealing baby formula and vitamins from major retailers across Sydney for shipment to China, police said Monday, reports AFP.
Four members of one family and two other men have been arrested and charged over the “organised criminal group” that New South Wales Police believe has operated for several years.“We’re thinking this is quite an expansive criminal group that was exploiting an overseas market at the disadvantage of the Australian public,” NSW Police Detective Superintendent Danny Doherty told reporters in Sydney. Doherty said investigators were still probing where the products were being sold, but alleged that so far, “thousands of shipments of baby formula were sent to China”.
Premium baby milk formula, vitamins and honey from Australia are highly sought after in China, where consumers are fearful of lax food safety standards that have resulted in deaths and health scares.
The investigation kicked off in February last year after police received reports of thefts from Sydney retailers.
Investigators said they searched two Sydney homes in August and seized 4,000 tins of baby formula, “large quantities” of vitamins, Manuka honey as well as more than Aus$215,000 (US$154,000) in cash.